with Elizabeth Martin, community member at The Grinning Yogi
I’m afraid of ridiculous things—aside from snakes—that’s legit. I’m scared of sinkholes (have you seen the Mexican city blocks that get swallowed whole?!). I’m fearful of those janky wooden bridges that idiots people think it’s fun to jump up and down on, like stop I don’t want to die, kay, thanks. (That was a solid use of the work “janky,” BTW).
My fear of falling has actually run its course to a ludicrous level. Before I took part in the adventure of studying abroad in Tampere, Finland you would think it was natural for me to have some trepidation about moving to a country I’ve never been to, where I know no one, and don’t speak the language. But those things didn’t really get to me. No what I, nearly 20-year-old Elizabeth, was terrified of was falling down during the snowy, slippery, and icy Finnish winters. Like, I thought about it a lot.
However, being practical in my absurd fear, I plotted a fool-proof course to not fall all semester. I was going to find the perfect pair of sneakers with good traction. And man, I really out did myself. I found these sweet black sneakers; I recall them having a cool white stripe too! But the real selling point was the traction was unbeatable: the bottom was covered in black pointed bits. They looked like a shark’s mouth. No ice was going to bring me down when I had these shark teeth sneakers. I thought I was a real genius, probably a trendsetter even.
So, there I am all fall and winter breaking in my siiiiick sneakers, not falling one time. Little did I know that other people really did notice my shoes. Finally as the semester was nearing its end my British friend, Andrew, asked me a question that he has been wondering all season.
“Elizabeth, why do you wear football cleats everywhere?”
Wait, what? My ice sneakers are actually sportswear? (Side-note: guess who wasn’t an athlete in high school?). I was dumbstruck, as apparently was most of the school. I was Cleat Girl (lamest superhero ever? Look, she NEVER falls).
In hindsight, I could have just pushed into my fear of slipping on the Finnish ice and worn much more comfortable shoes (“football” shoes are NOT comfy on sidewalks). That would have been a better self-challenge. After all, what’s the worst that could happen: I fall.
In yoga, we are encouraged to push into the fall. Maybe we fall because we are meant to know that feeling. We are meant to gather our strength to get back up. Yogis tell us that we are doing it right, pushing ourselves if we fall out of a pose. And just maybe, next time, we’ll stand solid.
Elizabeth can often be found talking to her dog like he’s a real human boy, being inspired by TED Talks, and creating an ever-growing travel wish list. Her newest dream is to live in a tiny house mansion. Her longest dream is to be a best-selling author. She’s working on one of those at: www.elizabethgracemartin.com.